Commerce (Trade)

Flea Market

Human beings have been trading and bartering things almost since the beginning of time. During the Stone Age valued trading stones were used to procure hunting equipment, tools, and raw materials to make tools. Obsidian was particularly important in the making of stone tools. Trading and bartering was generally confined to small groups of people in the community and with other communities short distances apart. As people began to domesticate animals and farm, there were more and more things to trade. Surplus of food meant that food could be traded for other needed items such as stone farming tools, clothing, and even decorative items. As the bartering system became more common, it gave rise to a group of people called merchants.

Merchants en route

Merchants began to travel thousands of miles on foot (later adding pack animals) trading, buying, and selling to communities along the way. Pottery was beginning to be used in parts of Asia and various other parts of the world and was a hot commodity. As human civilizations advanced there were more and more products to trade including livestock, surplus items, salt, copper, shells, pottery, animal skins, farming tools, seeds etc. Traveling merchants eventually developed trade routes and as trade expanded it eventually developed into the world wide trade we have today.

Paying for Groceries

Though most of our trade today involves exchanging money for goods and services, trade and bartering are still very much in vogue. Have you ever tried to buy a car from a dealership? Did you just pay the sticker price or did you try to get a better deal? Have you ever offered to “trade” services with someone? For instance I have in the past offered to tutor or babysit children in exchange for haircuts and other services. More recently I exchange cooking (food) for small house repairs. I know of a lawyer who provided legal services and the client “paid” by landscaping his yard.  There are thousands of scenarios and the value of such things changes based on what your needs are at any given time.

It is this bartering and trading and getting a “good deal” that make garage sales, yard sales, tag sales, flea markets and the like so popular. Many people have made businesses out of buying up cheap items at flea markets and yard sales, making improvements to their purchases and then reselling them. Others do this type of thing as a hobby or even just to express creativity.  Some good books about this sort of thing available at the Fulton County Public Library  are I Brake for Yard Sales: and Flea Markets, Thrift Shops, Auctions, and the Occasional Dumpster  by Lara Spencer

I Brake for Yard Sales

and From Flea Market to Fabulous by Kerry Trout.

From Flea Market to Fabulous

Though some of the crafts shown in this book may be dated, the techniques are still applicable and will definitely inspire the reader to other applications.

At this point in the blog, I have to confess that I am addicted to Flea Markets, second hand stores, craft shows, etc. and all books related to such things. I love to take furniture and various other items and rework them although I haven’t been able to do a lot of this in recent years. I also love to follow blogs related to crafting skills. A few of my favorites are kellysdiy and tierneycreates.

Have you ever gotten a great deal by trading or bartering? Do you like to “rework” or “repurpose” things?

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14 thoughts on “Commerce (Trade)

  1. I have gone to a few flee markets with my father in law, and that was the first I had ever been. They were awesome! I loved the haggling that was going on haha.

    I also love re-working certain things, and building smaller things from scratch. It gives the piece a purpose and you are invested in the work you do, and that is a great feeling.

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed your flea market experiences. You can find really great deals at most of them.

      Re-working something often results in one of a kind creations–great for gifts or show pieces.

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  2. Feisty,
    Great subject, with so many ramifications. I suspect people of my generation, older folks, are more into getting rid of things than collecting them. We are the hosts of garage sales and the sellers on places like Craig’s list. I re-purpose things, like clothes, until they are in rags. I just repaired two pairs of shoes whose soles had come un-glued. Replaced the blade on my 25-year old lawn mower, all because I hate buying new. Goodwill supplies basic needs, as often as not.

    Bartering seems more common in foreign countries, but I wish Americans did more of it. There are a lot of entrepreneurial opportunities in this area, for those who have the initiative. Also, things like blade sharpening, small engine repair, and simple, practical skills are in short supply.

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  3. Hi Katherine,

    You make a great point that some people need to be on the selling side of the flea markets, garage sales, etc. These types of things can be great money makers as well. Most areas also now have online “yard sale” type things. In my town the online version is called Rochester Buy Sell Trade. The function is exactly what it sounds like. In addition, there is often bartering going on.

    Bartering may be more common than you would expect. I know it’s quite common in my circles although it may not be called “bartering.” More frequently it is called “trading,” but it’s basically the same thing. I have a riding lawn mower, but no push mower. It is hard for me to get right up close to my house to get rid of weeds or tall grass. I used to have a neighbors who had a weed whacker but not a lawn mower, so we “traded” services. I mowed for them and in exchange, they whacked my weeds. Win win. I also had another neighbor whose lawn mower was broken. She also had a heart condition and didn’t need to be mowing anyway. So I mowed for her for years and in exchange she kept an eye on my house when I had to be gone. Unfortunately both of those neighbors have moved. My handyman sometimes whacks down small trees for me and in exchange I “pay” with prepared food. I’ve “paid” for all kinds of things with food. People who can’t cook always love this form of payment!

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  4. Such and enjoyable read and I see you’ve gotten to some lighter subjects in your journey through the library reading! I’ve borrow I Brake for Yard Sales, that is a fun book. Thanks for the shout out, glad you enjoy my blog, thanks for reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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